Women in ICT Awards shortlist Versent’s Desiree Kelly


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July 5, 2021

Versent Software Engineer Desiree Kelly has been chosen as a finalist in the 2021 Women in ICT Awards – WIICTA – the annual celebration of outstanding women in the Australian tech industry.  

“I’m so proud to be included in this group of amazing and talented women,” Desiree said. “I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside so many people who’ve inspired me. The thing that feels really good about this nomination is it could be an opportunity for me to encourage others. The WIICTA awards are a great way to recognise the efforts of women in the industry who are often an underrepresented group. This amplifies our voices and inspires others to push forward and make an impact.”   

The 2021 WIICTA awards have received a record-breaking number of nominations. From the highly skilled nominee cohort, WIICTA has shortlisted two hundred and five finalists (185 individuals and 20 companies) representing women in a wide range of tech roles across telecommunications, software development, distribution and service provision.    

“I started my IT career working in a call centre as a business consultant,” said Desiree. “One day, someone asked me if I’d considered a career pathway in Technology. I’d recently started working on more technical projects, so I thought, yes, this could be a great way to move into a role where I could make more of an impact. So, I enrolled in an IT diploma which led to a university degree majoring in software engineering. After I graduated, I went and ran a startup with a couple of friends from Uni for a few years. Eventually, I moved on to consulting for a while, which led me to my current software engineering role with Versent. I’ve had times throughout my career when it was challenging to be seen as an equal in a male-dominated industry. During those times, I found that having a supportive community around me to reach out to helped me overcome those challenges. I think that WIICTA can empower women in the industry and those who are thinking about joining to push through challenges they might face.”   

Diversity: it’s about problem-solving, not quotas   

WIICTA spokesperson Cherry Yumul congratulated all the 2021 nominees: “We applaud your standout contribution in helping to set an industry benchmark for female achievement across Australia,” Yumul said. “This year, WIICTA has generated a volume and calibre of nominees never seen before. This is an encouraging sign that gender diversity is high on the corporate agenda of more and more businesses in Australia.”   

Speaking about the role of the awards in promoting female participation in the tech industry, Cherry said that WIICTA’s aim is “not to tick a box or meet a quota but evidently to bring in alternative viewpoints for problem-solving and different leadership styles.”  More diverse gender representation in tech is positive for competitive advantage, and has been shown to deliver better financial results, she stated.    

A forum for career development   

WIICTA is structured to create pathways for advancement as well as recognition. The 2021 WIICTA finalists reflect a diverse technology industry spanning multiple disciplines and levels of seniority. Nominees come from a wide variety of tech companies, from large scale Australian consultancies like Versent to global system integrators and emerging start-ups.    

The individual WIICTA award candidates are located across Australia; New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. Women in all career stages are represented, from graduate-level to the C-Suite, as well as startup entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, technical experts, and outstanding young talent.

Gender diversity is policy at Versent    

Versent has taken note of the correlation between equal gender representation and improved business outcomes. Accordingly, gender diversity is a vital plank of Versent’s hiring policy and cultural objectives.      

“Once we achieved better gender balance in our team, there was a significant improvement in the overall communication style,” said Versent’s Hamish Ridland.   

When he was tasked with leading a new Versent project team in 2019, Hamish committed himself to hiring a more inclusive and diverse group of people.  “Our ability to serve our customers improved simply because we had different perspectives on circumstances; new ways of negotiating and collaborating,” he said.      

Desiree Kelly: “When I started at Versent, I was given support to plan my career development. I’ve also been offered training and courses, particularly for working towards completing technical certifications. I think we still have a way to go towards improving gender equality and representation in the tech industry. But, since joining Versent, I’ve experienced what we can achieve in moving towards this goal. Diversity fosters creative thinking, and that’s what drives tech innovation.”      

Versent’s CTO, Tim Hope, is pleased to see Desiree being recognised for her outstanding work. “We’re committed to building Australia’s best team of software engineers. Part of that commitment is creating a truly diverse team that gives us the widest possible range of perspectives. Having a team that represents our society means we’re better placed to understand our clients’ needs, and it’s also helping to build a positive company culture. I’m very proud of Desiree, and it’s fantastic to see her getting the recognition she deserves in this WIICTA awards nomination,” Tim said.   

Talking about Versent’s gender diversity policies, Versent COO Nicole Devine said: “mentorship, role models like Desiree and professional development for women is a vital part of addressing the gender disparity in the Australian IT industry. Versent’s mentorship and professional development pathways for women are a real-world expression of our commitment to equality. We’re continuously looking for ways to increase diversity at Versent so that we better reflect the society that we live in, but more importantly so that our customers also see and feel the benefits of a gender-diverse team.”    

Nicole Devine is a passionate advocate for gender equality in Australia’s tech industry, having seen the benefits of proactive workplace diversity not only as a woman but also from her perspective as a business leader. “It’s gratifying to see that our proactive efforts to provide opportunities for women are being recognised in this way at WIICTA,” she said. “I’m definitely cheering for Desiree, and indeed for all this years’ WIICTA nominees. It’s a huge achievement and a positive indication that this industry is starting to give visible recognition to the contributions of women in tech.” 

A celebration of achievement and opportunity   

The WIICTA awards are now in their tenth year. Over the last decade, WIICTA has been iteratively shaped by feedback from leading female technology executives and stands tall as the leading forum for spotlighting female tech achievement in Australia.    

In this year’s awards ceremony, WIICTA will honour winners across eight categories: Innovation, Technical achievement, Entrepreneurship, Graduate, Rising Star, Shining Star, Achievement and D&I Champion. The 2021 winners will be selected by an executive panel of more than 150 industry judges.

Update: the WIICTA awards are now set for Thursday 12 August. Winners will be announced at the celebration lunch at the ICC Grand Ballroom, Sydney.   

For more information about the 2021 Women in ICT Awards, please visit the WIICTA website.  

Looking for your next big opportunity? Visit Versent’s career page and get in touch.   


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